The roles of Jesus

Posted: October 19, 2011 in Psalms

Psalms 23-26, “The Roles of Jesus”

Who is Jesus Christ?  Obviously He is God in the flesh who died for our sins & rose again – on that much every orthodox believer agrees.  But who is Jesus in regards to His character & His role?  Is He the meek & merciful Savior who comforts those who come to Him?  Or is He the righteous Judge of all the Universe?  The answer is simply: yes.  Jesus fills both of those roles (and others) absolutely perfectly.

Many times Christians have a tough time understanding that idea – they tend to think of Jesus in only one way or the other.  Some would attempt to claim that Jesus is only loving & wouldn’t dream of actually proclaiming judgment on someone.  Others would claim that Jesus is to be feared in His holiness, but never actually approached in love and comfort.  The Bible however, knows nothing of that sort of false dilemma.  Jesus provides loving comfort AND He’s the judge.  These are a few of the things David affirms in Ps 23-26.  Although there are some similarities between each of these psalms, each of them focuses upon a different role of God (and thus of Jesus).  Jesus is seen to be our Shepherd, our King, our Help, and our Judge.  These aren’t roles to be separated; this are roles to be celebrated as we give praise unto our God.

Psalm 23 (NKJV) – Praising the Shepherd
A Psalm of David.

  • Ps 23 is one of the most famous psalms in all of the Bible, usually read at funerals.  As a result, we tend to think of it only in terms of death & reserve it solely for those occasions.  The interesting thing about Psalm 23 is that obviously David did NOT die upon writing it.  We don’t know the occasion, but we do know that these weren’t his last words.  Instead, this is a psalm of comfort, showing God’s provision, love, and care for His people.  Be careful not to miss out on finding comfort in this psalm simply because it sounds like a funeral due to our traditions.  This is absolutely beautiful!
  • Vss. 1-3: the Shepherd’s provision

1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

  • David understood much about shepherds – that was his entire life before God brought him to the home of Saul & anointed him to be king.
  • Who is this shepherd?  The “LORD!”  None other but the covenant-keeping God.  There can simply be no substitutes.
  • Jesus IS our Good Shepherd. [BIBLE: John 10:11-16]
    • The good shepherd lays down his life
    • The good shepherd provides protection from the enemy
    • The good shepherd is known by his sheep
    • The good shepherd gathers together his flock
  • Because God is our shepherd, we have no “want” – i.e., we have no lack of any good thing.  God is our provider, and He gives us everything we need.  Notice the completeness in verse 1.  There’s no qualifier on “want”; David doesn’t say “I shall not want for food…I shall not want for life…I shall not want for ____.”  He simply says “I shall not want.”  ALL of his life’s needs are provided by his Shepherd, and David has the faith to understand that God isn’t the shepherd over only part of his life; God is the shepherd over ALL of it.
    • Do we sometimes fall into that trap?  Perhaps we think that God will surely provide all of our needs at church or for our Bible devotional time, but we don’t really believe that God will provide all of our needs for everything else.  When the Lord is our shepherd, we shall not WANT.
    • Does this mean that Christians will never go hungry or get sick?  Of course not.  But it does mean that God hasn’t stopped being our shepherd in our times of hunger or sickness.  He is just as much God THEN as He is NOW.

2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. 3 He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.

  • Writing of the provision of the good shepherd.  David starts listing out various areas in which God provides.
    • green pastures”: Speaking of comfort & safety.
    • still waters”: Speaks of peace
    • restores my soul”: speaks of refreshment.
    • leads me”: Speaks of guidance.
  • Notice the reason God does all of this: “For His name’s sake.”  It’s for His own glory.  Does God love us?  Absolutely.  Does God care and provide for us as a Father to His children & a good shepherd to His flock?  No doubt.  But does God do all of this primarily because we’re such good little sheep?  No.   It’s not for our worth that He does any of this; it’s for HIS worth & HIS glory & HIS name.
  • Vs. 4: the Shepherd’s protection

4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

  • Not only does God provide for our needs; He protects us in times of trouble.  One can easily imagine a shepherd leading his flock though a valley in which predators are hiding out, or rocks could fall.  The shepherd is committed to providing protection for his sheep.  Likewise with us & God.  God may lead us into dark valleys, but He’s not going to leave us alone there.  God will not abandon us.
  • How bad can it get?  It can be the very valley of the shadow of death & God still won’t abandon us.  God will be with us, no matter what!
  • As a result, what kind of evil will David fear?  No evil.  It’s not that David stubbornly refuses to recognize evil as evil, or that he tries to pretend it’s something else.  It’s simply that David understands he’s got no reason to fear whatever evil comes against him because he knows he is being led by the Lord.  What glorious freedom!  When you know you are in the will of God, then you’ve got zero reason to fear anything!
  • Interestingly enough, it’s not only when David is obedient to the Lord that he lives without fear; it’s also when he experiences God’s discipline. “Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” The rod & staff were instruments of protection & correction.
    • Question: how can God’s discipline be a comfort?  Because it is an assurance that we are God’s children!  God’s discipline is a demonstration of His love for us. (Heb 12:6)
  • Vss. 5-6: the Shepherd’s prosperity

5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the LORD Forever.

  • The picture changes from that of a Shepherd and His sheep to that of (more literally) God and His chosen king.  David looks at the prosperity that comes from belonging to the Lord as one of His own.
  • God gives exaltation over the enemy.  It wasn’t merely that God was preparing a table for David; it was that God prepared a table of honor for David in the midst of his enemies.  David’s enemies would know that he had been blessed of the Lord.  What a glorious thought: that the enemy of our souls absolutely KNOWS how much God loves us and bestows favor upon us!
  • God gives election to His people.  The oil running down David’s head was the anointing oil – many times a picture of the Holy Spirit in the OT, but specifically in David’s life, the public sign that God had chosen him to be king.  God has also chosen us in Christ Jesus.  When we place our faith in Christ, we found that we have been chosen by God to receive His blessing as His people.
  • God gives blessings both now & into eternity.  David looked forward to God’s blessings for the rest of his life – but also looked forward to those blessings in eternity.  Our life in Christ begins now, but it doesn’t end the day we day – it only gets better from there!

 

Psalm 24 (NKJV) – The King of Glory
A Psalm of David.

  • Some believe this to be written for the occasion of when David brought the ark into the tabernacle (2 Sam 6).  It’s certainly possible – but the focus at the end is clearly on the person of the Lord; not the ark (or any other representation of the Lord).  It’s probably best to think of the psalm as speaking of beyond the kingdom years of Israel to the ultimate kingdom of heaven, introduced by Jesus in His 1st coming, and brought to fulfillment in His 2nd coming.
  • Vss. 1-2: the extent of the kingdom

1 The earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness, The world and those who dwell therein. 2 For He has founded it upon the seas, And established it upon the waters.

  • Everything belongs to God.  It’s not just Jerusalem – not just Israel – not just the Middle East – it’s ALL the earth.  Everything belongs to God, and He sovereignly rules over it all.  What may be unclear among people today will one day be absolutely clear when every knee bows & every tongue confesses that Jesus is Lord.
  • Everything was created by God.  Why does it all belong to God?  Because God made it all.  The one who makes it has the right to decide what to do with it & God made the whole universe.
  • Vss. 3-6: the citizen of the kingdom

3 Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? Or who may stand in His holy place?

  • Great question!  For David, the question was: “Who is qualified to minister unto the Lord in the Tabernacle as a priest?”  For us, the question might be: Who is it that is qualified to be a worshipper of God?  Who is it that is called to be a citizen of the kingdom?  Is there any way of telling?  Yes.  Yet before we get to David’s listing, we need to understand that David is not providing a legalistic list of works that will somehow “earn” God’s favor.  There are definitely certain characteristics of the worshippers of God, but these are the things that God does in us by His grace; not things that we’ve earned for ourselves.
  • Be very careful not to divorce the OT from the NT.  It’d be easy to take some passages out of their contexts and come up with a work-righteousness religion; but that’s not what the Bible does.

4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, Nor sworn deceitfully.

  • The worshipper has “clean hands”: outward purity
  • The worshipper has “pure heart”: inward purity
  • The worshipper does not “lift up his soul to an idol”: he is loyal to God alone.
  • The worshipper has not “sworn deceitfully”: he is truthful to others.

5 He shall receive blessing from the LORD, And righteousness from the God of his salvation. 6 This is Jacob, the generation of those who seek Him, Who seek Your face. Selah

  • This is the one who receives the covenant blessing of God & is invited to worship Him.
  • Notice what this blessing is: imputed righteousness.  “Righteousness from the God of his salvation.”  This is not righteousness that he has earned based upon all of his good works; this is righteousness that he’s been given because God is gracious & in Christ Jesus He provides salvation!
  • Those who have received God’s righteousness, THOSE are the ones who are truly of “Jacob” – they are the people of God.  It’s not the outward requirements of the law that God looked for in His people; it was the inward condition of the heart.  Circumcision not of the flesh, but of the heart (Rom 2:28-29)…  Those who were humble before God received of God’s righteousness, and God is the One that transformed their lives so that they could be humble worshippers of Him (with clean hands, pure hearts, etc.).
    • Are you included among those who seek God’s face & have received of God’s righteousness?
  • Vss. 7-10: the praise of the King.

7 Lift up your heads, O you gates! And be lifted up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in. 8 Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, The LORD mighty in battle.

  • Remember that the psalms are songs – there is definitely a lyrical quality about the end of Psalm 24.  The gates of the city & the doors among the walls are personified & told to be prepared for their King.  Obviously the kingdom of God will encompass all of the earth – there is a people of God who have been transformed by Christ – but there is also a city of God, from which Christ Jesus will reign first for 1000 years, and then into eternity.  This is the city that David prophetically looks forward to & calls to be prepared to receive its King.
  • Who is the King of glory?  First, this King is victorious.  He is “strong and mighty.”  Jesus has won the victory!  Death has no more sting – Hell has no more victory! (1 Cor 15:55)  Jesus is completely victorious over these things.  Even as the battle continues to wage by Satan & his minions, the war has already been won.  We KNOW Who wins because the end of the book has already been written.  Our King is strong & mighty because He is victorious!

9 Lift up your heads, O you gates! Lift up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in. 10 Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, He is the King of glory. Selah

  • Second, this King is glorious.  He is the ruler of all the angelic hosts – He is the light of the world – He is the glorious Son of God – He is the one who will provide the light for the new Jerusalem in all of eternity.  There is none more gloriously radiant than our King.  Who is this King of glory?  None other than the LORD of hosts – the Lord Almighty – the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Psalm 25 (NKJV) – A cry for help because of the covenant of God.
A Psalm of David.

  • Basically an acrostic in Hebrew (though not absolutely perfect).  We aren’t told the exact background, but obviously David was struggling with the result of some sin.  Apparently, the results manifested in his health, in his emotions, and among his enemies.  In response, David does what all of us ought to do in that place: throw ourselves upon the mercies & grace of God, asking for His help & deliverance.
  • Vss. 1-7: Opening prayer – 3 requests.

1 To You, O LORD, I lift up my soul. 2 O my God, I trust in You; Let me not be ashamed; Let not my enemies triumph over me. 3 Indeed, let no one who waits on You be ashamed; Let those be ashamed who deal treacherously without cause.

  • First request: Trust.
  • This is a prayer to show why David trusts in the Lord – appealing to God to demonstrate to all of David’s enemies why David’s trust is well-placed.
  • David does not want to be ashamed, but apparently some other people OUGHT to be ashamed.

4 Show me Your ways, O LORD; Teach me Your paths. 5 Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; On You I wait all the day.

  • Second request: Guidance.
  • Notice that David isn’t looking to anyone else.  He needs God alone to show, teach, and lead him.
  • Why?  Because God is the God of his salvation.

6 Remember, O LORD, Your tender mercies and Your lovingkindnesses, For they are from of old. 7 Do not remember the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions; According to Your mercy remember me, For Your goodness’ sake, O LORD.

  • Third request: Covenant.  David pleads with God to remember His covenant promises.
  • Interesting contrast.  Please don’t remember sin, but please do remember your promises & see me through the eyes of your goodness & mercy.
  • Vss. 8-11: the person God works with

8 Good and upright is the LORD; Therefore He teaches sinners in the way. 9 The humble He guides in justice, And the humble He teaches His way. 10 All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth, To such as keep His covenant and His testimonies. 11 For Your name’s sake, O LORD, Pardon my iniquity, for it is great.

  • David understands that this is the type of person that God works with – and although David has apparently failed in this (“pardon my iniquity”), this is still the person he desires to be.
  • Affirms that God is good
  • States that God teaches both the sinner & the humble.  At first glance, this would seem to be a contradiction, but it’s not – it’s really an explanation.  David includes himself in the category of the sinner, but he also desires to include himself in the category of the humble.  The sinner who is truly repentant IS humble.
    • When a person in sin claims to be “sorry” but yet shows no humility, it’s a good indication that he/she has not yet truly repented.
  • What do the humble who walk with God find?  Mercy & truth. (1 John 1:9)
  • Notice why God would forgive: for His own glory – His name’s sake. (As in Ps 23:3)
  • Vss. 12-15: the person that fears God

12 Who is the man that fears the LORD? Him shall He teach in the way He chooses. 13 He himself shall dwell in prosperity, And his descendants shall inherit the earth. 14 The secret of the LORD is with those who fear Him, And He will show them His covenant. 15 My eyes are ever toward the LORD, For He shall pluck my feet out of the net.

  • David has written about the person whom God will work with; now he writes about the person that seeks after God.  Same person; different perspective.
  • The man who fears God will be taught by God
  • The man who fears God will be made prosperous by God
  • The man who fears God knows God. (the secret of the Lord…)
  • The man who fears God experiences God’s covenant promises.
  • This is David’s prayer for himself!
  • Vss. 16-21: Prayer for personal deliverance

16 Turn Yourself to me, and have mercy on me, For I am desolate and afflicted. 17 The troubles of my heart have enlarged; Bring me out of my distresses! 18 Look on my affliction and my pain, And forgive all my sins.

  • David has internal afflictions – somehow he has sinned & he desperately needs God’s help.

19 Consider my enemies, for they are many; And they hate me with cruel hatred. 20 Keep my soul, and deliver me; Let me not be ashamed, for I put my trust in You. 21 Let integrity and uprightness preserve me, For I wait for You.

  • David has external afflictions – he has many enemies that hate him passionately.  Again, he needs God’s help & deliverance.
  • Notice how vs. 20 goes back to the thought of vs. 2.  This is apparently the trouble that was the reason for David’s prayer, but somehow it was tied back to his own sin.  He could not ask God to deal with his enemies around him when David himself had potentially acted as an enemy of God.  He needed to deal with his own sin first, and then ask God to address those who were sinning against him.
  • How is David preserved?  By God’s integrity & God’s uprightness.  It wasn’t David’s own; it was God’s that had been extended to him.
  • Vs. 22: Prayer for national deliverance

22 Redeem Israel, O God, Out of all their troubles!

  • In the closing prayer, it wasn’t just David that needed help, it was all of Israel.  Only God could be their help, so David ends with this final appeal.

 

Psalm 26 (NKJV) – Integrity in the Lord
A Psalm of David.

  • Again, we don’t know the historical context.  What we do know is that David is confident about his integrity.  Because of that, some have thought that perhaps David wrote this rather early in life, under the assumption that once David sinned with Bathsheba, there’s no way he would have written in this fashion.  That’s certainly a possibility, but it’s also possible that David simply knew of the extent of the forgiveness we have in God’s grace.  Upon that basis, any one of us could pray with the same confidence as David does here.
  • Vss. 1-5: Prayer for vindication

1 Vindicate me, O LORD, For I have walked in my integrity. I have also trusted in the LORD; I shall not slip. 2 Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; Try my mind and my heart.

  • Whatever the background was, David has a problem & he takes his case to God.  God is the righteous judge, and He can be trusted to judge correctly in all matters.
  • Can just anyone take their case unto God?  Not really…but David can.  Why?  Because David’s relationship was in the Lord.  His integrity had been given to him by God & David trusted in God.  That gave him a sure foundation, by which he wasn’t going to slip & fall into sin or fall due to false accusations.
  • The prayer was that David would be examined & then vindicated.  God knows all things, even the state of our heart & the deepest secrets of our mind.  David openly invited God to examine him & then vindicate him in front of his enemies.
    • God knows…God always knows.  How confident would we be in praying this same prayer?  Left to ourselves, we’d be terrified to have God examine us & draw out our sins in front of the rest of the world.  But this is the glorious good news of the gospel!  Because of what Jesus has done on your behalf, you CAN be examined & found clean & vindicated.  Because of the cross, your sin has been removed from you – as far as the east is from the west (Ps 103:12).  God finds no fault with His children because we have been washed in the blood of Christ!

3 For Your lovingkindness is before my eyes, And I have walked in Your truth. 4 I have not sat with idolatrous mortals, Nor will I go in with hypocrites. 5 I have hated the assembly of evildoers, And will not sit with the wicked.

  • How was David’s integrity demonstrated?  Several ways:
    • David kept God’s covenantal love & mercy before his eyes
    • David walked in truth
    • David did not partner with the religious hypocrites
    • David did not partner with the wicked pagans
  • In short, David’s eyes were always upon the Lord & he abstained from evil influences.  Sounds simple, doesn’t it?  Yet how hard it is in practice!  How often we go before the Lord in humility seeking His face in repentance from some sin, vowing never to return to it again, only to get distracted by the temptations around us & (like a dog returning to its vomit) go back to doing the things we used to do among the people we used to do it with.  Understand that that is not God’s desire for you!  He desires for His people to be holy, as He is holy (1 Pet 1:16) – His desire for His Church is that we would walk in purity & integrity.
    • So how do we do it?  Through the gospel.  Just as the cross of Jesus Christ frees us from the punishment for our past sin, the cross of Christ also frees us from the current power that sin has over us.  We’re no longer enslaved to it – we’ve been given the indwelling and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.  It IS possible to walk in uprightness with our God, but it is only possible through the power of our God.
  • Vss. 6-8: Righteousness gives ability to worship

6 I will wash my hands in innocence; So I will go about Your altar, O LORD, 7 That I may proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving, And tell of all Your wondrous works. 8 LORD, I have loved the habitation of Your house, And the place where Your glory dwells.

  • Because David could be examined & vindicated as righteous, he was prepared to be able to worship God.  Only those who are righteous are allowed to worship God.  Again, be sure to take this in context with the rest of the Bible, including the NT.  Only those who have been made righteous through the cross & resurrection of Jesus Christ (thus completely pure & vindicated in the sight of God) are able to truly worship God.  Those outside of Christ have no possible way to “go about the altar” of God.  Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6).
  • Yet David IS ready.  And because of the glorious work of God in his life, David is ready to proclaim it to the entire world.
  • Not only is David ready to praise, he’s totally willing to praise.  He loved going to the tabernacle to pray – at the time, the earthly place of God’s glory.  He loved being in the presence of God in order to worship Him.  Do we have that same gratefulness?  We don’t have to go to a certain place; our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit – we can worship God anywhere.  Are we as excited as David to be in the presence of God – or do we take it for granted?
  • Vss. 9-10: Prayer for protection

9 Do not gather my soul with sinners, Nor my life with bloodthirsty men, 10 In whose hands is a sinister scheme, And whose right hand is full of bribes.

  • Notice David is praying that God would not group him with sinners.  Because God would judge rightly, David prays that God would both see him as clean & keep him clean.  He doesn’t just want to be found righteous in this instance, but he’s asking for God’s help to be kept righteous from here on out.  Thus he asks to be kept free from being surrounded with various wicked people.
  • We also can pray for that same sort of protection.  “Lead me not into temptation…”
  • Vss. 11-12: Intent to have integrity

11 But as for me, I will walk in my integrity; Redeem me and be merciful to me. 12 My foot stands in an even place; In the congregations I will bless the LORD.

  • Trusting that God will act according to His righteousness, David commits to continue to walk in the integrity God had given him.
  • All based upon redemption & grace.  How could David both claim his own integrity, and yet still ask for God’s mercy?  Because David had experienced the redemption of God.  Jesus is our Redeemer who purchased our freedom from the results of our sin with His own precious blood that was shed at the cross.
  • Ends with a promise to praise the Lord.  The most appropriate response to the redemption from God?  Worship!  Praise the Lord to everyone that you know – worship Him in spirit and truth – magnify Him for all that He’s worth.  Bless the LORD!

Conclusion:
On one hand, David seemed to be in very similar circumstance with all these psalms: he experienced some difficulty & desperately needed to affirm that God was in control.  Yet on the other hand, we see more than just a cry for help; we see David thanking God for His comfort – praising God for His reign – praying to God for deliverance – appealing to God for judgment.  In all of this, we see different roles for our Lord Jesus.

  • Psalm 23: Jesus is the Good Shepherd
  • Psalm 24: Jesus is the King
  • Psalm 25: Jesus is our Help
  • Psalm 26: Jesus is the Judge

 

Is this how you see the Lord?  Too often, it seems that Christians have a one-dimensional view of Jesus.  We can involve Him in this area of our lives, but certainly not that one.  After all, He can’t help with that one.  Perish the thought!  Our Lord Jesus equips us for everything that He’s called us to face.  Sometimes we’re in desperate need of His comfort – we can go to our Good Shepherd.  Other times we need to remember how our sins have been totally forgiven in Christ, and yet Jesus will still judge the world in absolute righteousness.  Praise God for our Jesus!  Praise God for the fullness of Who He is!  May we remember that and go to Him at all times and in every need.

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